News & Brews January 13 2022

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House passes congressional redistricting map

By a 110-91 vote, the House yesterday passed a proposed congressional redistricting map. The map “remains largely identical to the plan submitted by citizen and Lehigh Valley resident Amanda Holt,” notes a press release from Rep. Seth Grove (York County) who introduced the map. “It includes very minor adjustments recommended by citizens across the Commonwealth to improve the compactness of districts, respond to citizen concerns regarding communities of interest and increase minority representation in Philadelphia.” Two Republicans, Reps. Chris Quinn (Delaware County) and Todd Stephens (Montgomery County), joined all Democrats in opposing the map. Democrats, who complained about the process of picking the map, did not put forward a map of their own for consideration or offer any amendments to the proposed map, which now heads to the Senate for consideration.

Case challenging union fees heads back to trial court

In 2014, a retired Chester County schoolteacher and a Lancaster County teacher sued the Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA) over a scheme that forced religious objectors to paying the union to get the union’s approval to send their so-called ‘fair share fees’ to the charity of their choice. (Click here for a full background on the case.) In 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down fair-share fees, and the teachers’ case was subsequently declared moot. But they appealed, given the PSEA and its affiliates have continued to include unconstitutional ‘fair share fee’ provisions in teachers’ contracts. Now, in a win for the teachers, the Commonwealth Court has sent the caseback to Lancaster County court to determine whether Pennsylvania’s ‘fair-share fee’ law is constitutional.

On ‘carpetbaggery’ and the Senate race

As expected, ‘carpetbaggery’ has become a central theme in the GOP primary for U.S. Senate, as two Republican candidates who have lived in PA for decades are taking issuewith candidates whose residences have dotted other states. Will it ultimately matter in the GOP primary? That remains to be seen.

Editorial: ‘Benefits of hosting Republican convention outweigh perils’ 

As Pittsburgh is among cities under consideration to host the 2024 Republican National Convention, some Democrats are crying foul, basically saying Republicans are not welcome in the city. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Editorial Board injects a dose of civility, reminding folks that, by the way, Republicans live in Allegheny County, and the city should welcome the convention despite the partisan leaning of many city officials. Read the editorial here.

Erie County workforce fell by almost 10K in 5 years

In 2016, Erie County’s civilian workforce was 131,600. Five years later, it had dropped nearly 10,000 to 121,800. The Erie Times-News reports that “the workforce is shrinking more quickly than the population.” And the head of the Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership doesn’t think the problem will go away any time soon. Read the piece here.

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